Why should you be foraging and preserving blackberries?
I love berries, all of them. Blue, black or red. Big or small. However, berries are expensive and they are only in season for a short time. This is why I am sharing my best tips and tricks about foraging and preserving blackberries with you today. I have also included a list of great blackberry recipes from other blogs. This way, by the time you are done reading this post, you will be able to pick your own delicious blackberries and have tons of ideas and inspiration on what to do with them.
Blackberries are a wonderfully diverse species with more than 200 different known varieties. What makes them so awesome is that every single one of these varieties is edible. You can even eat the leaves (or rather drink them as tea). It is a great plant for starting your foraging journey because unlike many others, confusing it with a poisonous plant is highly unlikely.
Because of the unlikeliness of confusing blackberries, it is also a great berry to pick with kids. Just make sure to have younger kids wear gloves against the thorns. Not only will you be teaching your children valuable skills, it is also super fun. I speak from experience, my mom used to take me foraging when I was young and it was always like an awesome adventure.
So, use those last sunny days of summer to go out and scavenge for some wild blackberries, rather than paying a ton for them in the store.
Where do blackberries grow and when are they in season?
In order to begin your journey into foraging and preserving blackberries, the first thing you need to know is when to look for them. Blackberries prefer temperate climates. They grow wild throughout most of Europe and according to the USDA they exist in some form in all US States (source). However, they are most common in the eastern and midwestern States.
Depending on where you live, wild Blackberries are in season from July until October. They like to grow in moist areas. You have a good chance of finding them at the edge of rivers, streams or forests. In more urbanized areas they may also grow inside hedges.
How to identify wild blackberries
As I’ve mentioned, there is no need to be afraid of confusing blackberries with a poisonous berry. There are many different varieties or hybrids of blackberries, such as dewberries, black raspberry or boysenberries. They have slightly different flavors but all of them are edible.
While the easiest way to identify a blackberry bush is by its berries, I will do my best to describe the characteristics of the plant as well.
Blackberry plants grow as dense bushes or shrubs. They are often considered an invasive plant because of their aggressive growth. They spread by sending out long thick branches that grow new roots where they touch the ground. These branch arches can be a good way to identify a blackberry plant from a distance.
The leaves of a blackberry bush are dark green and grow in clusters of 3-5 leaves. The leaves are lighter on the underside and have a row of thorns along the middle (so beware!). The leaves alternate along a stem with large thorns.
How to pick blackberries
Blackberries are ripe when they are completely black. The green ones and red ones, while edible, can be very sour. To pick a berry just grab it and pull it off the stem. Unlike raspberries, blackberries come off entirely, meaning they aren’t hollow inside.
Personally, I just pick blackberries with my bare hands and no protection (unless I happen to have gloves with me). Nonetheless, I would like to mention some possible precautions to take, especially if you are bringing along children.
As I mentioned before, blackberry plants have thorns both on the stem and on the underside of the leaves. To protect your hands you can bring a pair of thick gloves. Some people advise wearing eye protection as well, but I honestly don’t see the necessity for that unless you pick the berries with your face ;).
Another thing to be aware of is that blackberries can stain clothing. Wear appropriate clothing that you don’t mind getting stained (or torn by the thorns). It may also be smart to wear something long sleeved to protect your arms from the thorns.
How to freeze blackberries
Now that you’ve picked all these beautiful blackberries, the question is what to do with them. The simplest solution is to just eat them fresh. They taste great just as they are or in some yogurt. But what to do if you can’t eat them all fresh? The bad news is that fresh blackberries don’t keep long. You can have them in the fridge for 2-3 days but that is it. Fortunately, they are easy to freeze. I have also compiled a list of recipes as inspiration for you below.
No matter what you do with them, the first step should be washing them! I submerge the blackberries in cold water with a splash of apple cider vinegar. Let the mix sit for a couple of minutes stirring the berries a couple of times to ‘loosen’ any dirt or animals that might be on the berries. Then drain the water and rinse the berries a couple of times with clean cold water.
If you decide to freeze the berries for later you can freeze them whole or puree them for quick use in smoothies.
Freezing blackberries whole
To freeze whole blackberries I recommend spreading them on a baking mat or a piece of baking paper and freezing them loose. This way you will end up with individual frozen berries and not one huge blackberry rock. Once they are frozen (in about 2 hours, depending on your freezer temperature) you can move them to a more permanent storage container.
Freezing Blackberries pureed
If you prefer freezing the berries pureed, just throw them in a blender/food processor/stick blender and blend until smooth. At this point you can strain the seeds out using a cheese cloth or a fine strainer. I am usually to lazy to take that extra steps. The, freeze the pulp in an ice cube tray for easy portioning. Once frozen transfer to a freezer container or bag.
Recipes with blackberries
Finally, here is a collection of some tasty blackberry recipes from my page and around the web to make sure you are 100% ready to start foraging and preserving blackberries!
Check out my recipe for blackberry peppercorn cordial. It is a deliciously refreshing summer drink that tastes great with club soda, in cocktails or lemonades.
Here are some great blackberry recipes from other blogs:
If you have a tasty blackberry recipe on your blog or just something you like to make. Let me know in the comments below for a chance to get it featured here and on my Pinterest board.
Follow my blackberry recipe Pinterest board for even more inspiration on foraging and preserving blackberries:
If you like my post on foraging and preserving blackberries, don’t forget to pin it!
Check out my other posts:
This post was shared on: Homestead Blog Hop